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Age of Autism Awards 2008 Journalist of the Year: David Kirby

Davidkirby By Anne Dachel

It is my great privilege to name David Kirby, Age of Autism's Reporter of Year.  I know that for many of us in the autism community, that's an understatement.  David should be receiving a lifetime achievement award for what he's done.
 
I'm qualified to write on this, not because of any degree in journalism, but due to my years of dealing with members of the press who report on autism, especially the topic of vaccines and autism.  Many other parents do the same thing.  Our earnest hope is that they'll report both sides of the issue honestly.  It's rare that this happens, however.  Most in the media are content to give the last word to the medical community and to federal health officials who adamantly deny that vaccines could be causing autism.  Even though I always send the facts--the science that disputes the tired mantra of "studies show no link," few reporters take notice, even when what I send directly contradicts what they've written.  Sometimes, someone will write to tell me that they'll save my email, "in case I ever write on this topic again."  Even worse, is an email from a reporter saying, "Please don't send me any more information on autism; I'm no longer covering this issue." 


 
As a parent and as someone in touch with so many others who have vaccine-injured children, it's hard to understand the failure of the media to sound an alarm over countless children everywhere with autism.  Why are those charged with reporting the news so willing to pretend that it's normal to have hundreds of thousands of kids diagnosed with something no one ever heard about twenty-five years ago?
 
David Kirby is the exception.  Like Woodward and Bernstein in All the President's Men, he knew something was going on that no one else was seeing.  It all started with the last-minute rider put into the Homeland Security Bill in 2002 giving liability protection to vaccine makers for any damage caused by the mercury-based vaccine preservative, thimerosal.   In researching this, David gradually came to know the full scope of the autism crisis and the controversial link to unsafe vaccines. 
 
David could never have known back in 2002 that his interest in the Homeland Security rider would lead to a best-selling book, Evidence of Harm, and appearances on shows like Meet the Press and Larry King Live,  Or that it would make him a major player in the most heated debate in medicine. 
 
David didn't take on this issue for financial gain or personal fame.  He said this about the money he's made on the book, "This income has been spread over a six-year period..., for an average of about $23,000 per year.  That amount covered my rent in New York City, but not much else." 
 
The link between vaccines and autism is a subject that incurs the immediate wrath of the medical community and federal health officials.  I think it's one of the reasons so few in the media are willing to take it on.  (Plus there's the pressure not to talk about it because of the billions in revenue from pharmaceutical advertising.) 
 
From the start, David knew he'd found a dangerous topic that he once told me was like attacking motherhood.  Vaccines are the sacred cow of health care.  Raising questions about damaging side effects might cause parents not to vaccinate and there was the possibility that kids could die from vaccine-preventable diseases. 
 
But David's never advocated that parents don't vaccinate.  His book was Evidence of Harm, not Proof of Harm.  He's rationally asked officials to look at the research and the statistics that challenge their safety claims. 
 
That's something that the government isn't willing to do.  We continue to hear about their endless studies that show no link.  Any other research is dismissed as "flawed."  The mantra, "vaccines are safe, vaccines save lives" is used to counter the charge of damaging side effects. 
 
This isn't just about the science and David knows that too.  It's about who will be held responsible if it's clearly shown that through complete oversight failure, a generation of children has been exposed to unsafe vaccines with devastating results.  There are many people with everything at stake in this and that's why the denials never stop. 
 
I first met David Kirby in person in 2005, in a Congressional conference room in Washington.  He was speaking along with Scott Bono from the National Autism Association and Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana.  But David was the outsider; someone who didn't have an affected family member. 
 
To me, he is the crusading reporter who found a subject that he can't just walk away from--because the story isn't finished.
 
When the concession by the federal vaccine court on Hannah Poling was announced in March, 2008, David covered it.  While health officials were saying that it didn't mean vaccines actually cause autism, David followed it up and (HERE) reported about a second, unpublicized concession in the Poling case.  David told us that it said that Hannah's vaccines "caused" her "autistic" brain disease.  The government continues to cover up the link between vaccines and autism but David gives the public the facts.
 
I recently met with David at the Somali Autism Forum in Minneapolis.  He was there because it's more of the story.  He was looking into the stunning number of Somali children with autism, born to highly vaccinated immigrant mothers.  No one else reporting about this.
 
An Age of Autism story on December 11 (HERE) by David Kirby was about an email he had just received from U.S. Army Captain, Joe Mickley, father of three sons who have autism.  Capt. Mickley believes that vaccines are responsible for what happened to his children.  He ended his letter  by saying, "Again sir, I thank you and hope that you may never grow tired in your efforts, because my family and many others count on you."

There are so many parents who share in Capt. Mickley's hopes.  Like David in the Old Testament, David Kirby's taken on a Goliath and the battle isn't over yet.  I'd like to simply say, "David, I love you for what you do.  Thank you for caring about our children."
 
Anne Dachel
Media Editor

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David, I want you to know that your excellent journalism and selfless advocacy has been a true inpiration to our family. My grandson was vaccine injured not long before your book came out. In a sense, you have been on this journey with us from the very beginning.

It was an honor to have met you at the Pittsburgh Conference last fall. You have helped our children more than you will ever know and I will be forever greatful!!!

Congratulations for being named "Age of Autism's Reporter of the Year" and know that you will always be loved!!!!

Mr. Kirby ~

I shutter to think where our community, the children and their families, and even the world for that matter, might be if not for your relentless persistence to uncover the truth! Thank you!!

The Wessels

David,

You are a great writer, a heroic person, and a sincere truth-seeker. You deserve this honor and much more.

So glad to know you and be able to watch the autism story evolve as you report on it.
You're doing a damn good job. Thanks so very much!

Dear Goldilocks, No one at Age of Autism cares about comedy or trajedy. We care only for the truth and we trust that the truth of science will heal the children and turn back the maelstrom of autism. Go back dear friend- Go back to about 1995 and follow the path of the autistic parents. Mr. Kirby's book can take you there. The path is stony ,steep and long. There is now no end in sight.Wear strong boots, keep a pure heart, and see with clear eyes and some truths will be revealed to you. Do not believe anything- simply seek the truth. The parents of autistic children have been taking this path for years and strange as it may seem, they have been right many times and the public health authorities and doctors have been wrong so many times. I do not have any autistic child, but that is what I have seen. So now we honor Mr. Kirby as a seeker of the truth

I'll never forget how I first learned of your book, David. Two years ago, while I was in full delusion mode and suffering from the notion that my children might only have some benign inherited language delay, I was fortunate enough to meet a respected anti-thimerosal/safer vaccine activist. As gently as she could, Dr. Karen Effrem persuaded me to seek information on toxic injury for our twins and recommended that we read "Evidence of Harm". By the first chapter, the wool came off my eyes and I finally understood what I had seen happened to my kids. We got started on GF/CF immediately, saw dramatic results within days and launched into alternative medical treatments full force. That book saved my children's lives and saved our sanity and souls. Just little things like that. We're eternally grateful for this and for all the continuing, mind-saving coverage.

The city you write for gets 30,000 new kids and 60,000 new parents a year in the US alone, plus countless siblings, family and friends. Not a bad beat in this market – please stick around. We could not be more lucky to have you take an interest in the impact of the environment on autism. I agree with Jeanne that finding a new Kirby piece is always a thrill because of your knack of reporting fresh, clear, relevant, and shocking information. Who knows what we will see written in the future, but I trust it will be truth, and that is all I ask. Congratulations on a well deserved honor, and thank you.

Daaaaviddd! Daaaviiiddd!
Daaavidddd!

DK:

You are the absolute BEST! You never cease to amaze me with your unstoppable, inquisitive nature (you're like the Energizer Bunny) and I am so honored to be able to call you friend.

Love you tons and I'm forever in your debt,

K

Dear David,

Congratulations on your acknowlegement of your continued hard work. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and the award is well deserved.

Congratulations David!!!

I can think of no one more deserving of this award than you! You have stood up and stood by our children. You have continued to dig ever deeper and expand your efforts to get to the truth for our children now, and our children of the future.

It is for this very reason that Jeanne, I, and so many others in our community call you "Mr. Wonderful"!!!

Thank you, David! You are a Hero for our children! And I believe as I'm sure many others do, that because of your continued efforts, 2009 is gonna bring some monumental and game changing moments for our kids!

Rock On David... Rock On!

Great AOA and thanks David for coming to the UK ..the egg was brought home to hatch for sure ,just a matter of time now

Many thanks

Angus Files

"David, I love you for what you do. Thank you for caring about our children."

My feelings exactly!

Anne, what a lovely tribute. Webster's dictionary doesn't hold enough positive adjectives to describe David Kirby. He has my deepest respect and gratitude.

How many people would fly to gloomy Minnesota in November to sit for over six hours on the world's hardest chairs and listen to bureaucrats equivocate? Yet David Kirby came because he cared about the people affected by "autism" -- the children, their families, and everyone touched by its widening ripple effect.

And that was just one day in this investigative journalist's life, which could be spent on any number of topics less controversial, less stressful, and more profitable. One can only hope that more of his professional peers are inspired by his model, and remember why they got into journalism in the first place.

Journalist of the Year indeed! Congrats to you Mr. Kirby! I guess it's been a while since I've waxed poetic about you... so here we go...

I love you, man! ;-) You have been a beacon of light in an otherwise very dark tunnel. I've said before there is a certain thrill when the alert pops up that you've posted a new piece on HuffPo, or here on Age of Autism. I know everyone here knows the thrill of which I speak - that, "Ooohhh, this is going to be good" thrill.

In a year where we, the parents, were feeling let down by our "alseep at the wheel" media, you stood strong and continued to pursue the issue - taking on personal attacks along the way. Thankfully, no amount of mud slinging kept you from speaking the truth.

I've said it before, I'll say it again - and I'll keep on saying it - you are a hero to us all, especially our children.

Bravo! And keep up the good work!

It is truly remarkable that you did what no other reporter has done: You listened to the parents, got involved, studied the science and the politics, and wrote a comprehensive coherent book about it. One of the things I love about Evidence of Harm is how you gave such clear simple explanations of the science without over simplifying. Truly a wonderful book -- beautifully written, a compelling human drama, as well as documentation of such important scientific and medical issues.

And then for years you have stuck with the subject and not abandoned us. Thank you so much for your advocacy, for speaking to our congresspeople and people in England, for writing here and on Huffington Post. Candace and Andrea said it well -- "thank you for being the voice of truth".

And thank you, Anne Dachel for your dogged persistance in educating those who do not wish to be educated, and for writing for AoA. If you weren't disqualified by being on the AoA staff, you would surely be receiving an award too!

Goldilocks

It will never be comedy.

Thank you, David - for decency, curiosity, persistence and most of all - ammunition.

Congratulations!

"To me, he is the crusading reporter who found a subject that he can't just walk away from--because the story isn't finished."

There are quite a few surprises left it would seem. The plot is not yet done.

It would be interesting to see whether it turns out to be a comedy or a tragedy. Might depend on the point of view of the audience, one would think.

We owe David a special debt for his visit to the UK this summer - and in particular addressing a meeting in Parliament at the invitation of Lord Hodgson (arranged by Lisa Blakemore-Brown). It gave us focus and impetus, and even a little hope. Thank you David, it was an important moment for us.

John

dear david, you deserve more than we can give...as a mom in rural upstate ny, i learned alot from your book and dan burton and liz birt..as a mom with a child now 10 affected with autism you have seen me through every day..i look forward to your reports they sustain me in this paralell universe we have been banished to..we are like the misfit toys..i have bought and passed your book to 3 other affected familys here in canton ny..so they could deside what action their lives would take after being informed..there is a saying...by i dont know:there is never a duel with the truth.the truth always wins,the truth is no coward.the truth does not need the law.the truth does not need the forses of goverment.the truth is imperisable,eternal,and immortal and needs no human agency to support it. thank you for being the voice of truth..it is what keeps us going..respectfully..candace and justin.

Thank you David. A well deserved honor. I wish it came with a raise- you certainly deserve one. Thank you for sticking with this story and enduring all the garbage I have seen heaped on you because of it.

We and our children will be forever grateful to you for pursuing the truth no matter what.

It is funny in when I read his book for the first time , it made me so mad ,that on a few occasion as I was reading the Evidence of harm , I almost through the book out the window.

I glad I did not , it clearly started a process of self actualisation and push me in a quest to find the truth .

There is a very old french expresssion , that is no longer used today , but I find very appropriate for David and his reporting on the autism Phenomena .

"noblesse oblige " is sometimes has been applied more broadly to those who are capable of simple acts to help another, usually one who is less fortunate.

Pierre Morin
montreal , Que ,Canada

Gee, what a surprise pick. LOL.

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